SpiceJet on Thursday was directed to pay Rs 10 lakh as damages to a differently-abled flyer for forcibly offloading her in 2012. The Supreme Court took into account the “mental and physical suffering” experienced by Jeeja Ghosh, who suffers from cerebral palsy. The court said “unreasonable discrimination” was shown towards her when she was de-boarded from the flight with “total lack of sensitivity”.
A Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and R.K. Agarwal, ordering SpiceJet Ltd. to pay Rs. 10 lakh in damages to Ms. Ghosh in two months, observed how disabled persons live behind the closed door of neglect of both family and society and very few have found the key to open the door, like Ms. Ghosh.
Reacting to the order, Ms. Ghosh described the verdict as a “victory for all.” “I welcome the Supreme Court verdict. I hope that it will increase awareness and sensitivity about differently-abled persons,” she said.
The judgment, which begins with a quote that the “non-disabled do not understand disabled ones,” said unceremonious off-loading of differently-abled persons from flights — that too using physical and verbal threats — is a cause of their agony, humiliation and emotional trauma, and this amounts to “doing violence to their human dignity and infringes, to the hilt, their fundamental rights under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.”
“Disabled people no longer see their physical or mental limitations as a source of shame or as something to overcome in order to inspire others. What non-disabled people do not understand is that people with disabilities also have some rights, hopes and aspirations as everyone else. They do not want to depend on others … They want to be treated as valued member of society who can contribute to the development and progress of society. For this they want the proper environment to grow,” Justice Sikri wrote in his judgment for the Bench.